Experience Strategy

A Creative’s BESTIARY

A drawing of many multi-colored monsters



MY TOOLKIT: Interviews / Pen + Paper / Procreate / Adobe CC / Polymer Clay


What if you weren’t alone in facing THE INSIDIOUS WHISPER?


While it’s fun and easy to complain about the small stuff, we creatives are lousy when it comes to talking about the big, scary stuff that makes us feel vulnerable or fraudulent.

Can we use the tradition of monsters-as-allegory to become better, happier creatives?

I set out to create a line of characters that represent our foils and friends, serving as conversation starters and offering a chance to prompt exercise and improve our craft.

I started by interviewing a diverse, international group of creatives, asking them about their struggles, their heroes, and the legendary beasts in their home countries.

These beasts are the result. You may find them familiar.

An illustration showing a blank silhouette against a scribbled dark background


In which you learn about the BEASTS you already know…


The Legacy Hermit

Signs that a designer is haunted by the Legacy Hermit include:

• Receiving illegible images from the distant past,

• Becoming saddled with unreadable and degraded documents, and

• Being forced to use any sort of beige equipment.

Defeating a Legacy Hermit is nearly impossible. Care must be had, instead, in not becoming one.


The Half Idea

The designer who is obstinately forcing two incompatible concepts together may in fact be haunted by the Horrific Half Idea.

It appears in many forms, but is recognized by the complete bisection of its parts. The Half Idea can only be defeated by killing, at a minimum, the weaker portion.

Many have sworn by salting the divide and starting over completely.


Mr. Traditional

A putrid little beast from a bygone age, Mr. Traditional is still known to haunt many shops and schools.

He is often found obsessing over magazines or wagging his genitals about.

If you have a better idea than waiting for him to die, please let us know.


The Legendary Feedback Jack

A great and frightful figure, Feedback Jack springs forth quite unexpectedly to alert the designer to their missteps.

For some, Jack cuts a heroic path, guiding the designer away from danger. But for those of thin skin and weak will, Jack is a villain and a diabolical hinderance.

Allow this fellow to join your party if offered.


The Dongle Goblin

The inattentive designer will find this dastardly little fellow has made away with the adaptors and dongles that are the lifeblood of a collaborator. The Dongle Goblin is suspected to use its bounty to build nests.

Partial to apples, but infuriated by clouds.


The Great Block

A frequent visitor to all creators, this massive obstruction prevents constructive thought. Though it can be circumvented, few think to do so, and instead dash their brains against its implacable might.

Natural enemies include the long walk and the lengthy ablution.


Mr. Steals, the Time Skitterer

The creator who toils over an amazing idea, only to discover it has already been done, may be a victim of Mr. Steals, also known as the Time Skitterer.

This paradoxical little gremlin spies world-beating ideas, then skitters down its timehole to deposit them in the past.

It’s the only explanation.


The Meddler

A terrifying arm of seemingly infinite length, at the end of which sprout many fingers of unnatural articulation, the Meddler can appear at any time and from seemingly any place to interfere with the designer’s work.

It cannot be killed, but it can be distracted by flattery.


Unctuous Verbosus

A useless mouth with no ideas of its own, but a certainty in the wrongness of others.

'Tis said the savvy designer can curse the Unctuous Verbosus to “come up with something better.”

The loathsome beast will depart in silent impotence.


The Terrifying Blank

Nearly all must face the Terrifying Blank as they set off on their adventures.

Rarely has there been a creature so intimidating, paralyzing and derailing, and yet so fragile and easily beaten.

The fearless creative will find that even nonsense breaks this beast’s power.


Eye Cloud, the Protector /

the Pesterer

A guardian spirit known to hide a nefarious, relentlessly annoying streak.

It must be appeased with coin if it is to be kept on the side of the designer, else the Eye Cloud will relentlessly poke and pester until insanity reigns.


The Insidious Whisper

Most designers will suffer a possession of the Insidious Whisper at some point in their adventures. Many find the Whisper to be a constant unwelcome companion.

The poison it breathes inside a soul is said to convince even the most heroic of their uselessness.

When the Whisper tells the creative they are a fraud, whisper back the counterspell:

“Prove it.”


Slow Brain Troll

Slow Brain Troll make brain slow.


Collectibles, Reminders and Wards

Expanding the character line into posable action figures, stickers, and coloring books.



Process & Sketches

Pain Point Interviewee Origins Inspiration Manifestation Counter
Creative Exhaustion Norway, Nebraska Norwegian trolls Slow Brain Troll Rest
Imposter Syndrome, Self-Loathing Utah, Virginia Ghost, sickness, rot, miasma Insidious Whisper External Proof
Intrusive Technology Utah, Virginia Basic dad pun Eye Cloud Money
Getting Started UK, Nebraska, Utah Pos/neg optical illusions Terrifying Blank Nonsense
"NO" in a Brainstorm [grad school team observations] Sensory homunculus Unctuous Verbosus Team selection, soft skills
Micromanaging Boss/Client Canada, Germany, Virginia Slenderman, works of Ted Naifeh The Meddler Soft skills
"It's Been Done." [pitch observations] Hallucination I had once after a head injury Mr. Steals Sense of humor
Creative Block Netherlands, Nebraska, Utah Brick walls, centipedes Great Block Lateral thinking
Lost Adapters Virginia 1940s gremlin legends Dongle Goblin Preparedness
Resistance to Feedback Sweden, UK, Phillipines, USA Victorian illustrations, works of Mike Mignola Feedback Jack Openness
Mad Men Mentality [culture, experience] J---n P------n Mr. Traditional Awareness, avoidance
"Forcing It" Phillipines, Norway, USA Manananggal, Tikbalang Half Idea Start over
Ossifying Tech Habits [job experience] Beige tech, ocean critters Legacy Hermit Always learn

Monsters are real.